What is CHS, cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome?

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is a condition in which a patient experiences extreme nausea, cyclical vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and difficulty eating or drinking after using cannabis.

Some experts state that CHS is when a person is at toxic levels of cannabis, including CBD products.

Other experts describe this condition as an overloading of the human’s body endocannabinoid system of the body.

Symptoms can be mild or severe and last a few hours, days, or weeks or occur with repeated episodes lasting up to years. Symptoms can be:

  • Regular cannabis use, predating the onset of illness
  • A cyclical pattern of hyperemesis (vomiting) while a person is using cannabis
  • Symptoms lessen or disappear after cessation of cannabis use and the detox/withdrawal period.
  • Abdominal washing: symptoms may be relieved by applying heat to the abdominal area or during hot baths or showers

I thought cannabis cured nausea, not caused it.

There is an FDA-approved medication that contains THC called Mariol that is prescribed in small doses to decrease nausea and vomiting for patients taking anticancer medicines or as an appetite stimulant for people with immunodeficiency syndrome like AIDS. However, the cannabis products approved by states contain large amounts of THC, which causes nausea and vomiting, which can leave the consumers begging for relief.

Can someone die from CHS?

Yes, if cannabis use continues, CHS can be fatal. Prolonged vomiting may lead to:

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte problems
  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Seizures Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Kidney failure
  • Shock In rare cases, brain swelling (cerebral edema)

Resource Cedars Sinai

Why is CHS not better understood by the medical community?

Pro-cannabis ad campaigns combined with a lack of education have spread misinformation about the risks of using cannabis.

Will I develop CHS if I use cannabis a few times a week or a month?

While most professionals say CHS is caused by chronic cannabis use, we can’t predict who is susceptible. Some consumers experience CHS symptoms after using cannabis only a few times.

Is CHS common?

In past decades, CHS has been uncommon. However, the legalization of cannabis, especially high-potency products, is now the primary reason people seek medical attention for cannabis-related harms in Colorado emergency rooms.

Is there a cure for CHS?

The only cure known at this time is to stop using all cannabis products, including CBD products. However, most who suffer from CHS are also addicted to cannabis, a condition known as cannabis use disorder, making sensation challenging to achieve. These consumers will require professional intervention to support a recovery program.